March 9, 2018 (by TSgt. Austen R. Adriaens ) - U.S. Air Force airmen with the 109th Airlift Squadron and 133rd Airlift Wing participate in a training exercise in Yuma, Ariz., March 9, 2018. Operation Snowbird enhances the Wing’s ability to deploy, execute and sustain rapid global mobility around the world.
USAF C-130H #96-1008 from 109 AS prepares to take off on an airdrop mission in Yuma, on February 26, 2018. Operation Snowbird, a training exercise, enhances the 133rd AW’s ability to deploy, execute and sustain rapid global mobility around the world. [ANG photo TSgt. Austen R. Adriaens]
More than 30 sorties are conducted over the duration of the exercise, which includes 44 low-level routes. These flying missions are carried out both day and night. Airmen from the 133rd Logistics Readiness Squadron load a total of four C-130 Hercules with Containerized Delivery Systems (CDS) for airdrops over the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz. The CDS' are then recovered from the drop zone, transferred to a holding hanger and reused.
"We planned 28 airdrops and have executed all 28," said Capt. Daniel Vogel, a combat systems operator with the 109th Airlift Squadron. "That includes dropping high-velocity CDS', a low-cost low altitude system that we use on the C-130, as well as heavy equipment. So, there has been a lot of airdrops and a lot of training that we planned and executed."
Performing airdrop missions from a C-130 Hercules, in a training environment, allows senior leadership to identify strengths and mitigate challenges that may arise during operations. Recognizing airspace and maintenance issues increases proficiencies of operations for future deployments. Operation Snowbird increases overall readiness and strengthens relationships amongst different squadrons and sections within the Wing.
"Flying in the mountains is very key to our training, especially if we are thinking worldwide operations. Minnesota doesn’t afford us the opportunity to do so. We have been able to work with our intelligence personnel and search and recovery teams to plan and execute various missions that would not be possible back in Minneapolis." stated Vogel.
Overall, the mission requires support from the entire base. Over 100 airmen are participating in the training exercise. This includes airmen from the 109th Airlift Squadron, 133rd Airlift Wing and even a few members from the 161st Air Refueling Wing. These airmen are gaining hands-on experience that they can bring back to their respected units.
When asked if there was anything unique about this training exercise, Vogel said, "About a third of the entire personnel that is down here, in Yuma, Ariz., are new to the 133rd Airlift Wing. So, there is a lot of great training opportunities going on."